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Inside Baseball

The Bottom Half

August 26, 2007|Peter Yoon

Looking back

The Atlanta Braves, in the thick of the wild-card race and with an outside shot at catching the New York Mets in the NL East, inexplicably cut closer Bob Wickman on Friday. Wickman had converted 20 of 26 save chances this season and had a 1.98 earned-run average since the All-Star break. Whispers in the Braves clubhouse say Wickman had a penchant for alienating teammates and was a clubhouse cancer. The Cleveland Indians reportedly are interested in bringing him back. He pitched there from 2001 to 2006. Rafael Soriano figures to be the Braves' closer. They also have Octavio Dotel, who could come off the disabled list in September.


Looking ahead

Major league rosters expand from 25 to 40 players Saturday, offering many top prospects their first glimpse of the big leagues. Among the potential impact players who will probably make their debuts: Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, the former Long Beach State slugger who has 24 minor league home runs, and Ian Kennedy of the New York Yankees, the former USC pitcher who is a combined 12-2 with a 1.86 ERA at three minor league stops this season.


It's a fact

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young has 26 home runs and 47 runs batted in and is on pace to break an unusual record: The 30-home run hitter with the fewest RBIs in major league history. The record is shared by Rob Deer of Detroit, who had 32 homers and 64 RBIs in 1992, and Felix Mantilla of Boston, who had 30 homers and 64 RBIs in 1964.





Jacksonville, double A

Kershaw is probably the top starting pitching prospect in the organization, but unfortunately for the major league club, at only 19, he isn't ready to help solve the rotation deficiencies. He has made only three starts at double A since he was promoted on Aug. 3. He's 1-1 with a 3.77 earned-run average in those starts and pitched six shutout innings in his last start Monday. He gave up only two hits and struck out eight. At Class-A Great Lakes, he was 7-5 with a 2.77 ERA in 20 starts. He had 134 strikeouts in 97 1/3 innings. Kershaw was the Dodgers' first-round pick in the 2006 draft, so this is his first full season as a pro.


Las Vegas, triple A

Lindsey is an intriguing possibility as a power hitter when rosters expand next weekend. He's a 30-year-old journeyman who nearly quit baseball after last season but gave it one last shot with the Dodgers and is having the best season of his career. He began the season at double-A Jacksonville and was promoted after batting .286 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 56 games. At Las Vegas, he's batting .339 with 19 home runs and 75 RBIs in 67 games. Lindsey was originally a 13th-round pick by the Colorado Rockies in 1995. He played in the Seattle and Florida organizations and played in an independent league last season.



Who's on the rise, who's slumping:


* Up: Mark Teixeira, Atlanta -- How many runs would the Rangers have scored if he were still with them?

* Down: Carlos Delgado, N.Y. Mets -- Broke an 0-for-19 slump Saturday but still has only one homer in August.


* Up: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati -- Breakout year continues and so does his pursuit of a 30-30 season.

* Down: Ian Kinsler, Texas -- His only three hits since Aug. 17 came in the 30-run game against Baltimore.


* Up: Alex Rodriguez, N.Y. Yankees -- Is there anyone else even in the running for American League MVP?

* Down: Mark Reynolds, Arizona -- Can't-miss prospect missed plenty with 20 strikeouts in 33 at-bats.


* Up: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado -- Giving Ryan Braun something to think about in rookie-of-the-year race.

* Down: Felipe Lopez, Washington -- You know you're slumping when you're benched at Coors Field.


* Up: Carlos Beltran, N.Y. Mets -- Six home runs and 22 RBIs in 13 games since coming off the DL on Aug. 10.

* Down: Delmon Young, Tampa Bay -- His dearth of power could be cause for a Jose Canseco investigation.


* Up: Brian McCann, Atlanta -- Hit safely in 18 of 20 August games; average up 18 points since the break.

* Down: Ramon Hernandez, Baltimore -- Bullpen pitchers weren't the only Orioles who had a tough week.


* Up: Greg Maddux, San Diego -- Time to add "Maddux getting 10 wins" to the death and taxes list.

* Down: Jamie Moyer, Philadelphia -- When he's bad, he's really bad: His earned-run average is 5.16.

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